The Lanka Academic

VOL. 6, NO. 270


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Headline Summary
F R E E      C L A S S I F I E D S
T  O  P      H  E  A  D  L  I  N  E
South Asia free trade zone takes effect
Associated Press, Sun January 1, 2006 05:25 EST . - - The South Asian Free Trade Area, encompassing India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka - , the Maldives, Bangladesh and Bhutan, will benefit the region's 1.5 billion people, 60 percent of whom are poor, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said. Under the agreement, the free trade area's more developed countries India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - will reduce their customs duties to between 0 and 5 percent by 2013.

Less-developed Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives have until 2018 to reduce their tariffs.

A South Asian free trade zone was first proposed two decades ago, but the initiative moved slowly because less-developed countries feared they would lose too much revenue from lower customs duties.

Leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, or SAARC, agreed at a summit in Pakistan in January 2004 to forge ahead with the free trade zone.

Nath said the arrangement would benefit the entire region, which is home to about one-fifth of the world's population.

``Implementation of South Asian free trade agreement will further strengthen our trade relations with the SAARC countries,'' Nath said after India's Cabinet ratified the agreement on Thursday.

India, as the region's leading economy, has agreed to compensate poorer countries for lost tariff income.
Published: Sun Jan 1 13:22:15 EST 2006

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels abduct member of rival Tamil group: military
Associated Press, Sun January 1, 2006 01:39 EST . - - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels abducted a member of a Tamil group that opposes the guerrillas' violent campaign for a separate homeland for the ethnic minority, the military said Sunday. PLOTE, a former separatist armed group that renounced violence about a decade ago and joined Sri Lanka - 's political mainstream, accuses Tiger guerrillas of killing dozens of its members since a cease-fire was signed by the Tigers and the government in 2002.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been fighting for a separate state for minority Tamils in Sri Lanka - 's northeast since 1983. More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict.

Sri Lanka - has witnessed an upsurge in violence with 45 soldiers killed in December, threatening the uneasy truce.
Published: Sun Jan 1 03:50:28 EST 2006 Back to the top

Soldiers injured in Jaffna attack
BBC, 01 January, 2006 . Two Sri Lanka Army (SLA) officers have been injured in a grenade attack in Jaffna.

Sri Lanka Army said the junior ranking officers were injured when a hand grenade was thrown at a SLA bunker.

Injured officers have been admitted to SLA hospital at Palaly.

Meanwhile Vavuniya police said attacks against Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Ealam (PLOTE) have been increased in recent weeks. More...
Published: Sun Jan 1 15:54:56 EST 2006 Back to the top

MDMK cautions Centre against defence pact with Sri Lanka, January 01, 2006 7:18:32 PM IST. The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) has cautioned the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government against entering into any defence pact with Sri Lanka, saying President Mahinda Rajapakse might "use it to unleash violence against Tamils"... Back to the top

Dateline Colombo: Invitation to Sonia Gandhi, 12/31/2005 3:0:48. President Mahinda Rajapakse has extended an invitation to Congress Leader Sonia Gandhi to attend the first Rajiv Gandhi memorial oration to be held in Sri Lanka next year... Back to the top

Lankan doctors oblivious to a drug's danger
Munza Mushtaq in Colombo, January 1, 2006, 10.04 p.m.. Sri Lankan doctors and pharmacies are continuing to prescribe and sell 'Seroxat' (also known as Paroxetine), the anti-depressant, despite its severe implications against one's health, including birth defects in the event pregnant mothers take this tablet... Back to the top

Security forces detain 903 people while tracking rebel infiltrators in Colombo
DILIP GANGULY, Associated Press, Sat December 31, 2005 03:41 EST . Police backed by soldiers carrying automatic weapons cordoned off eight districts in the Sri Lankan capital and detained 920 people in door-to-door searches Saturday to track down Tamil Tiger rebels and criminals, police said... Back to the top

India renewing interest in Lanka's NEP, Sat 31st Dec 12:15GMT. India, which kept off the Tamil-speaking North Eastern Province (NEP) of Sri Lanka after its seven-year politico-military intervention ended in disaster in 1990, is now renewing its interest in the area... Back to the top

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